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Nohow On: Company, Ill Seen Ill Said, Worstward Ho: Three Novels Paperback – December 6, 1995


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Amazon.com Review

Beckett has few imitators these days, when story is all to most novelists, but he remains a writer of unquestionable stature. Nohow On: Company, Ill Seen Ill Said, Worstward Ho: Three Novels and its companion volume Samuel Beckett: The Complete Short Prose, 1929-1989 assemble virtually all of Beckett's prose work outside his sequence of major novels: Molloy, Malone Dies, and The Unnamable.

Review

In Beckett's fiction, every other word serves to snap the reader back to consciousness. -- The New York Times Book Review
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Product Details

  • Series: Beckett, Samuel
  • Paperback: 116 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press; 1st edition (December 6, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802134262
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802134264
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.4 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,050,937 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Samuel Beckett was born in Dublin in 1906. He was educated at Portora Royal School and Trinity College, Dublin, where he graduated in 1927. His made his poetry debut in 1930 with Whoroscope and followed it with essays and two novels before World War Two. He wrote one of his most famous plays, Waiting for Godot, in 1949 but it wasn't published in English until 1954. Waiting for Godot brought Beckett international fame and firmly established him as a leading figure in the Theatre of the Absurd. He received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1969. Beckett continued to write prolifically for radio, TV and the theatre until his death in 1989.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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See all 9 customer reviews
Even if that may mean only catching a single passage, one passage at a time.
J. Raimo
Originally written in French, this work's poetry is best appreciated in that language. "Worstward Ho" is, I believe, Beckett's masterpiece.
"wilhelmf"
My wife likes to read books, especially classics, so I am happy that she is happy.
Robert F. Howard

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Adam P. Lounsbery on May 16, 2000
Format: Paperback
If we politely ignore the short story "Stirrings Still," which was completed in 1989, the year of Samuel Beckett's death, these three short (very short) novels comprise the final crowning achievement in his long and brilliant prose career. Best known as the author of the play "Waiting for Godot" ("En attendant Godot"), it remains to be seen whether Beckett will ever be as lauded for his prose as he already is for his contributions to absurdist theater, but he should be. Although his trilogy of novels - "Molloy," "Malone Dies," and "The Unnamable" - are probably better-known, the three works collected in this omnibus edition entitled "Nohow On" are some of the most perfect prose of the 20th century. "Company" combines memories from Beckett's own childhood in Ireland with the minuscule movements made by an old man alone on his back in the dark. It is one of Beckett's "closed space" works, in which as little movement as possible is made, both literally and figuratively, yet it is also one of his most accessible and beautiful pieces. "Ill Seen Ill Said" (originally written in French as "Mal vu mal dit") takes the idea of "closed space" one step further, and removes any connection to Beckett's own personal memories. And finally, "Worstward Ho," which Beckett wrote in English and considered "untranslatable" into French, is a distillation of language into its very essence, in which the reader must concentrate on every word, and in which two- and three-word sentences are more beautiful and devastating than just about anything most so-called great novelists ever wrote.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By J. Raimo on July 19, 2006
Format: Paperback
These are not easy works. That said, they are perhaps more honest, profound, and original that the many other, more accessible works you could be reading otherwise. Each is certainly a more than a bit tiring, and, like so many other works by Beckett, you'll find yourself frustrated if you breeze through a single paragraph without nearly committing it to memory. So, if they are as worthwhile as I previously suggested, what might justify all the trouble? The one or two passages that will strike you - and perhaps only you - on each reading. The title of my review is one you'll know if you enjoy reading Beckett, but also take a peek at this one that I've never seen singled out or particularly commended:

The words too whosesoever. What room for worse! How almost true they sometimes almost ring! How wanting in inanity! Say the night is young alas and take heart. Or better worse say still a watch of night alas to come. A rest of last watch to come. And take heart. (99)

Like Joyce, Beckett seems to reward the reader in almost direct proportion to how much effort they might invest in any given work. If a work proves difficult, it remains so for a reason - no writer, contrary to reputation, ever seeks the label of "inaccessible" or "esoteric." Beckett, like all great writers, moves in a realm beyond paraphrase, and no readers should beat themselves up for failing to catch every nuance and every meaning at a first go or a single reading. Or multiple readings. All that remains for someone dedicated to reading the work is to trust in it and - perhaps most importantly - enjoy it. Even if that may mean only catching a single passage, one passage at a time.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Ross James Browne on March 10, 2003
Format: Paperback
These three novels represent Samuel Beckett's greatest accomplishment. What are they about you might ask? Let's just say that they're about everything and nothing. They are profound commentaries on the universal existential crises plaguing all of mankind, and an utterly fascinating reduction of what it means to be a human. Be forewarned: these novels are extremely modern, abstract works of art, and for many will be very difficult reading. The final installment, _Worstword Ho_ is officially the greatest work of fiction, page for page, that I have ever read. It is not for the faint of heart or weak of stomach. These novels are not to be taken lightly and it should be noted that Samuel Beckett put the "high" in highway. This is abstract literary thought at its far-seeing outer limit.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By "wilhelmf" on November 22, 2000
Format: Paperback
Beckett was uncomfortable with comparisons to Joyce - which is understandable both in light of their relationship and of the difference in their respective aesthetics. However I believe that "Worstward Ho" holds a place in the Beckett canon similar to the position of "Finnegans Wake" in Joyce's work. Both are the last major works of their authors and both represent the most perfect realizations of their artistic visions.
"Company" is the union and fulfillment of two of Beckett's recurrent themes - autobiography and "closed place" imagery. Its prose is spare and lyrical, evoking powerful images while its narrative style explores the ambiguities of the relationship between narrator and auditor.
"Ill Seen Ill Said" is a beautiful narrative which is singular among Beckett's prose works in having a female narrator. Its expanded, yet still abstracted and "distilled", cosmology (in comparison to the "closed place" works of the '60s and '70s) represnts an interesting new direction (or destination?) for Beckett's writing. Originally written in French, this work's poetry is best appreciated in that language.
"Worstward Ho" is, I believe, Beckett's masterpiece. It recapitulates all the major themes of his work - the futility of the act of expression, the poverty of language and the problematic dichotomies of perceived and perceiver and of narrator and auditor. It is written in the barest, most stripped-down prose ever composed. At the same time, it is repetitive and resonant. Less than five thousand words long, it compresses volumes of meaning. The more reduced and undetermined the language is, the more potential meanings and significations its words take on.
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